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Ori director criticises developers for overhyping games with "lies and deception"

Update: Thomas Malher apologised for his Resetera post, saying he "did not choose the right tone or platform" to express his thoughts

Original story, February 4, 2021: Moon Studios' CEO and Ori game director Thomas Malher called out other studios for misrepresenting their games ahead of launch.

In a long Resetera post titled "Why are gamers so eager to trust and even forgive the snake oil salesmen?", Malher particularly targeted industry veteran Peter Molyneux, No Man's Sky developer Sean Murray, and Cyberpunk 2077 studio CD Projekt Red.

He accused them of "lies and deception," selling features that don't exist and, by overhyping their games, making fools of players. He also criticised journalists for "happily [playing] along, each and every single time."

Preempting criticism from readers, he added that he's not being "bitter" or "shitting on over devs," but that he is "shitting on liars and people that are okay with openly deceiving others."

"It all started with Molyneux," Malher wrote. "He was the master of 'Instead of telling you what my product is, let me just go wild with what I think it could be and get you all excited!' - And that was fine, until you actually put your money down and then the game was nothing like what Peter was hyping it up to be."

He then attacked Sean Murray, saying that Hello Games' MD seemed to have "learned straight from the Peter Molyneux handbook" and that he "apparently [loved] the spotlight." Malher argued that, at launch, No Man's Sky was "nothing like what Murray hyped it up to be." He also called out his industry peers for forgiving Hello Games after the studio released updates to introduce missing features.

"They released a bunch of updates, so let's forget about the initial lies and deception and hey, let's actually shower him with awards again, cause he finally kinda sorta delivered on what he said the game would be years earlier," Malher said. "Thanks, Geoff Keighley. Rewarding that kinda behavior will surely help the industry grow stronger."

Finally, he criticised CD Projekt Red, with Cyberpunk 2077 only being "a fraction of what the developer hyped it up to be," adding that the studio's PR department "took all the cues from what worked for Molyneux and Murray and just went completely apeshit with it."

He continued: "Every video released by CDPR was carefully crafted to create a picture in players' minds that was just insanely compelling," he continued. "They stopped just short of outright saying that this thing would cure cancer."

Concluding his rant, he said that this type of behaviour from games developers is wrong and shouldn't happen anymore.

"Don't paint a picture that you'll not be able to deliver. Just don't fucking lie to me. You're fucking over gamers, you're fucking over journalists (that should know better, so shame on you!) and you're fucking over other developers."

No Man's Sky was highly criticised at launch in 2016 for not delivering on what the game was promised to be. It prompted an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority, who ruled that its marketing materials did not mislead consumers.

Similar backlash happened around the release of Cyberpunk 2077, which didn't run properly on consoles and contained game-breaking bugs at launch. CD Projekt Red apologised and offered refunds, with its investors considering a class action lawsuit.

Update, February 5, 2021: In a statement sent to GamesIndustry.biz, Thomas Malher apologised for his Resetera post, saying he "did not choose the right tone or platform" to express his thoughts. He said that what he wished to discuss was "the downsides of the current hype culture and how developers making false claims about their products hurts not only the consumers, but developers as well."

However, he admitted using "an overly aggressive tone that wasn't really suited for someone in [his] position." He added that his intention wasn't to "hurt anybody" but to offer a "discussion starter" on the issues in the industry.

"We all share a common love for this artform and we should always remain respectful with each other. And I wasn't yesterday," he wrote. "And for that I really am sorry, especially to those that I mentioned by name. I promise that I'll learn from this mistake and wish no hard feelings towards anybody."

Here's Malher's full statement:

"By now a lot of you will have probably read my posting on Resetera yesterday. I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder and talked about the downsides of the current hype culture and how developers making false claims about their products hurts not only the consumers, but developers as well. At least that was the intention behind it all.

"Now, a day later, I've read the responses and I realize I wasn't thoughtful in the way I presented my thoughts, nor did I choose the right tone or platform for it. After I made this thread, we had a pretty long conversation internally about all of this and I definitely didn't represent Moon Studios the way I should have.

"I'm a game developer, I love what I'm doing and I enjoy nothing more than to make games that surprise people, that put a smile on their faces or that might even make people cry.

"But I'm also a passionate gamer myself. I always enjoyed sharing my love for games on public forums and continued to be very outspoken even after Moon Studios and the 'Ori' series became known entities in the games industry. I always really liked the idea of gamers and developers alike having an open discourse about games, so that we could all figure out together how to improve the artform. Yesterday I used an overly aggressive tone that wasn't really suited for someone in my position. My intention was definitely not to hurt anybody, but to offer up a discussion starter on current issues the industry is facing.

"We all share a common love for this artform and we should always remain respectful with each other. And I wasn't yesterday.

"And for that I really am sorry, especially to those that I mentioned by name. I promise that I'll learn from this mistake and wish no hard feelings towards anybody."

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Latest comments (1)

devlar novak pixel placer 8 months ago
Think it's fair to comment he received a massive backlask from 99% of those who replied in that thread. Also the history of speaking ill of Sean Murray over a number of years that came to light was... eye-opening. It was a credibility-wrecking hit piece with flavors of Gamers Rise Up rhetoric disguesed as doing his fellow users a favor. Not a good look.
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